I’m regularly asked about my choices of favorite microphones.
The answer is really pretty easy every time: my favorite ever made is the Shure SM57.
You can point a ‘57 in the general direction of a sound and you’ll get a pretty decent representation of that sound that can be recorded and pounded to death later.
Everything else in terms of microphones is pretty much open to negotiation. I do mostly unsigned artists, which often means that the “A List” gear isn’t an option.
In a past life, I headed a retail audio operation, and there was always a ton of stuff that I’d be checking out, so it wasn’t all that uncommon for me to be in the position where I was working on a project with nothing but tools I’ve never seen before.
So, I’d be in the studio trying to define uses (or reasons why I’d never use them again) for stuff that was a total and complete mystery to me.
A lot of times I’d hit on a piece of gear that I absolutely thought was great, only to get to the mix or mastering and find that it wasn’t all that great – so then I’d have a self-imposed problem to try to work out of.
The only things I really stress about in terms of the whole recording process are the sounds I’m recording. You can have all the $10,000 mics in the world, but if the sound you’re recording is crap, the recording is going to come out like crap.
If you have great sounds with great performances and can use whatever tools you have at your disposal to capture those sounds, and those performances are of a manner that compliments the musical statement, then you’re sitting in a damn good chair.
Having access to some of the hardware I have access to will often make the job a hell of a lot easier. It can often make the product maintain the emotional content that was the artist’s vision of how the product should be presented.
But, it’s never a means to an end. The whole goal is to be consistently “upper mediocre.”